Pregnancy and Depression
Pregnancy is one of the happiest times for many mothers. Unfortunately, the opposite happens to some women. Instead of feeling happy about their achievements, they experience fear, confusion, stress, and depression. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American College for Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 15 to 25 percent of women experience some symptoms of depression during pregnancy.
Depression is a mood disorder that affects 6% of women at some point in their life. The number increases in pregnant women. One in every seven pregnant women is struggling with depression.
Depression during pregnancy is not often diagnosed because many people think it is a hormonal imbalance that will naturally be back to normal levels with time. Failure to treat depression during pregnancy is dangerous both to the mother and her baby.
Symptoms of depression during pregnancy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping disorder (too little or too much)
- Loss of interest in things you enjoyed before
- Persistent sadness
- Changes in eating habits
- Feeling guilty and worthless
- Low energy
- Suicidal thoughts
Possible triggers of depression during pregnancy
There some factors that increase the risk of pregnancy depression. Research shows that pregnant women with any or some of the following conditions are at high risk of depression.
- Relationship problems
- Previous pregnancy loss
- Infertility treatments
- Complications in pregnancy
- Personal history of depression
- History of abuse or trauma
- Stressful life events
How pregnancy depression affect the baby
Untreated depression has potential dangerous risks to both the mother and the baby. Some of these risks include poor nutrition, smoking, drinking, and suicidal behaviors that can cause premature births, development problems, and low birth weight. A depressed woman does not have the desire and strength to care for herself and her developing baby.
Depressed mothers give birth to less active and more agitated babies. To get a healthy baby, the mother should take good care of herself and seek help whenever she feels depressed.
Depression treatment during pregnancy
If you feel depressed, you should talk to your health care provider and share with him or her your symptoms and struggles. The health care provider wishes the best of you and your child. They will discuss with you the best treatment options available and advice accordingly to ensure you and your baby are safe.
Depression treatment options
- Private psychotherapy
- Support groups
- Light therapy
Safe medications for depression during pregnancy
Many people are debating over the safety and long term side effects of antidepressants when used to treat depression during pregnancy. Certain antidepressant medications increase the risk of newborns problems such as pulmonary hypertension, heart problems, low birth weight, and physical malfunctions.
A pregnant woman with mild depression can manage her condition with support groups, light therapy, and psychotherapy. A combination of medications and psychotherapy can help a pregnant woman with severe depression.
Pregnant women should know that every medication they take reaches the baby via the placenta. When treating severe depressions, the doctor examines both the benefits and risks. The doctor then prescribes the medication with fewer risks to the baby and more help in dealing with depression.
Natural ways to treat depression during pregnancy
Due to the potential risks associated with antidepressants, some women opt for natural home remedies for depression during pregnancy. In additions to psychotherapy, light therapy, and support groups, the following natural ways can calm the symptoms of depression:
Exercise: Exercising decreases the level of cortical hormone and increases serotonin levels
Adequate rest: Lack of enough sleep reduce your body and mind’s ability to handle day to day challenges and stress. Pregnant women should establish a sleeping routine to sleep and wake up at a set time.
Diet and nutrition: Some foods can affect mood, mental clarity, and ability to handle stress. Pregnant women should avoid diets that are high in sugar, caffeine, artificial additives, and processed carbohydrates.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega 3 is known for its several health benefits. New studies are showing that a daily intake of Omega 3 or fish oil can help calm the symptoms of depression.